The most successful enterprises have deep reserves of talent from which to draw the next leadership generation. Secure in the knowledge that they’ll be able to replenish the ranks of leadership as current executives retire or move on, they can direct more attention and resources to growing their businesses and remaining competitive.
Even if you’ve yet to give much thought to your company’s future leaders, you can probably identify some of them in your ranks. Others may have yet to show their leadership potential. And still others will emerge as new recruits.
No matter where your high potentials are at present, you can spot them by looking for these six traits.
1.The Ability to Motivate Others
True leaders are effective motivators. No matter the circumstances, they have the ability to push their colleagues to achieve exceptional results. They do so in collegial fashion — by showing, not dictating. Look for subordinates whose teams always seem to exceed expectations. Watch them closely to determine whether they’re the ones making the difference, or whether other factors might be at play.
- Cheerful Optimism
Leaders are by nature optimistic. Look for employees and new hires that cheerfully approach any challenge, no matter how difficult it appears at first. “Great leaders inspire their teams to achieve the impossible,” says George Otte . “Even when they fail, they grow more confident in their abilities and more willing to accept challenges.”
- Work Ethic and Reliability
Effective leaders are first to arrive and last to leave. They set the pace of work at the office and set standards for their teams to live up to. They see tasks through to completion, no matter the circumstances. And they’re available on short notice to address unexpected issues that arise in the natural course of business. In other words, they’re the most reliable, dependable members of your team.
- Uncommon Wisdom
Future leaders show wisdom and foresight at every turn. They have a demonstrated ability to anticipate potential problems and cut to the heart of matters, even when matters seem less clear to their colleagues or superiors. If they weren’t your subordinates, you’d likely turn to them for advice and counsel. As it is, you trust their opinions almost as much as you trust your own.
Emerging leaders are trustworthy and honest. When they say they’re going to do something, they follow through. This inspires trust in their colleagues — and, once they’ve been promoted, their subordinates. Look for current and prospective employees whose work histories clearly bear out this characteristic. When you’re not able to personally vouch for their trustworthiness, reach out to former bosses or colleagues for firsthand perspective on their integrity.
- Above-Average Organizational Skills
Emerging leaders must juggle lots of tasks simultaneously. That requires exceptional organizational skills and a clear-eyed ability to prioritize important tasks over those that can wait.
Organization also has less obvious benefits. For instance, well-organized employees tend to influence less organized employees for the better — leading to a more efficient, productive workplace.
“[An organized] office is likely to encourage others in the office to work better, therefore resulting in higher productivity,” writes workplace efficiency expert Debbie Fletcher .
What are you doing to ensure that you’re hiring future leaders? Please share your tips in the comment section below.